Milosevic is charged with crimes in Croatia

2nd indictment alleges torture, murder of civilians in 1991, 1992

October 10, 2001|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

PARIS - The United Nations war crimes tribunal at The Hague, Netherlands, has published its second indictment of the former Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic, charging him yesterday with war crimes in Croatia, including the persecution, deportation, torture and murder of civilians in 1991 and 1992.

A tribunal official said the document was to be presented promptly to Milosevic in the tribunal jail, where he has been since June, awaiting trial on earlier charges that he committed war crimes in Kosovo.

"He can read it or refuse to read it. That's up to him, but he will be served the document," the official said.

Milosevic is refusing to appoint a lawyer or to cooperate in any way with the tribunal, saying he does not recognize its legitimacy.

The new accusations against Milosevic are certain to be part of the proceedings during his next court appearance, scheduled for Oct. 29.

A third indictment, covering Bosnia, which is being prepared in The Hague, might not be ready by then, said Florence Hartmann, a spokeswoman for the chief prosecutor.

That indictment is certain to include the charge of genocide, she said.

The delay results not from lack of evidence, she said, but from investigators' asking for more time to include new data from several Bosnian villages.

"For the sake of the survivors, we want to make sure that no stone is left unturned," Hartmann said.

The Croatia indictment names Milosevic as an individual and in his role at the time as president of Serbia, the dominant republic in Yugoslavia. It charges him with crimes against humanity, war crimes and grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions.

Covering Aug. 1, 1991, to June 1992, it focuses on the violence that followed the secession of Croatia from the Yugoslav federation.

The indictment says hundreds of Croat and other non-Serbian civilians were killed and at least 170,000 deported by Serbian forces as part of Milosevic's plan to seize about one-third of Croatia. Thousands were mistreated in makeshift camps, police stations and military barracks, it says.

The document names 15 other Serbs accused of taking part "in this joint criminal enterprise," including generals and senior officials close to Milosevic.

Those named include the militia leader Zeljko Raznatovic, known as Arkan, who was killed by gunmen.

In essence, the 21-page document is a compact history of the early stages of the 1991-1995 war that devastated Yugoslavia. Atrocities it describes took place in towns, villages and hamlets across the region and are attributed to Yugoslav soldiers, Serbian police officers and Serbian paramilitary gangs known as the White Eagles and Arkan's Tigers.

It also includes the attack on Vukovar and its hospital.

After the city fell in late 1991, it says, Serbian forces took "approximately 250 Croats and other non-Serbs" from the hospital, moved them to military barracks and a farm, and "beat and tortured the victims for hours."

On Nov. 20, 1991, soldiers took the victims in groups of 10 and 20, shot and killed them, and buried the bodies in a mass grave, the indictment says.

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